For 23 days in October 2002, the Beltway Sniper held the citizens of the Washington, DC, area terrorized in his sights. Ten people were shot and killed over the space of three weeks, another three people critically wounded. The shootings had no obvious motive, the victims seemingly targeted at random as they went about their daily business. The identity of the shooter, firing unseen from a distance with a high-powered rifle and telescope, remained a mystery to frustrated authorities.
In the end, diligent police work tracked him down. Fingerprints from a robbery scene identified a recent immigrant, Lee Boyd Malvo, who was a known associate of John Allen Muhammad. That latter name in turn led to a vehicle registration, and the police broadcast a lookout for the car in question. It was soon after spotted at a highway rest stop and the two men arrested.
The triggerman’s plan
The mastermind and triggerman of the shooting spree was John Allen Muhammad, a 41-year-old former Army Sergeant who had earned an Expert Rifleman’s Badge during his 17 years of military service. Twice-divorced with four children, he had led a restless life ever since the Gulf War and his honorable discharge from the Army.
His 17-year-old accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, who’d at first claimed he’d done most of the shooting, later recanted and admitted Muhammad had been the marksman. Their relationship was that of surrogate father and son. Malvo’s testimony eventually revealed that Muhammad’s escapade of terror had been meticulously planned to unfold in three phases:
- Phase One consisted of planning, mapping and practicing multiple shootings throughout the Washington and Baltimore area. The goal: kill six white people a day for 30 days (180 planned victims).
- Phase Two would involve killing a pregnant woman with a shot to the abdomen. Then to kill a Baltimore City policeman and, at the officer’s subsequent funeral, detonate several improvised explosive devices to kill as many attending officers as possible.
- Phase Three would extort millions of dollars from the government as a price to end the terror campaign. Muhammad would move to Canada, recruit homeless boys from orphanages and set up a training camp. There he would instruct the boys in the use of weapons, later turning them loose to carry out mass shootings in cities throughout the USA.
However crazy he might have been, Muhammad thought big. His birth chart offers an intriguing combination of ambition, intelligence and violence. According to Astrodatabank, he was born December 31, 1960, at 6:12 am (Rodden rating AA) in New Orleans.
His chart is brimming with yogas. Jupiter in the ascendant in its own sign gives Hamsa Yoga. Between kendra lords Jupiter and Mercury, and trikona lords Sun and Mars, these four planets form ten Raja Yogas. The Moon and Mars form Chandramangala Yoga, Moon and Jupiter form Kesari Yoga.
Intelligence abounds. Jupiter is swarashi, while both Jupiter and Mercury enjoy dig bala, thus giving them enough collective strength to call this Saraswati Yoga. The Sun and Mercury form Budhaditya Yoga.
Despite the intelligence, the dark side is evident. Mars influences all three ascendants – udayalagna, suryalagna and chandralagna. So too does Saturn. And both malefics likewise influence lagnesh Jupiter.
The lord of the rising nakshatra is Ketu, a Mars-like malefic in the sign of Saturn. The sub-lord of the lagna is Mars itself. The Moon is in a Mars nakshatra. Mars is retrograde and strong. Mars’s recurring influence is the mark of a fighter, a killer, a warrior.
The Beltway Sniper’s killing spree ran from October 2nd to 22nd, 2002. For those interested in such details, the times, dates and locations for each shooting, fatal and otherwise, are given on Muhammad’s Astrodatabank page.
Muhammad’s entire killing spree occurred during his Saturn dasha, Mercury bhukti, Rahu sub-period. As we’ll see, all three of these period lords invoked violence through the agency of the trikasthanas in Muhammad’s chart.
The trikasthanas are always involved in violence against another, whether via theft or rape or the ultimate crime, murder.
- Murder takes the life of another person. Since “the other” is seen through the 7th house, that person’s death is seen in the 6th, because the demise of anything is 12 houses away from the subject at hand. Thus, murder of another is reflected in 6th-house activity of the perpetrator.
- Murder is a crime against dharma. The chief dharma house is the 9th. The 8th, because it is 12 houses away, is anti-dharma. So during crimes of any kind where dharma or right action is violated, there’ll usually be evidence from the planets that the perpetrator’s 8th house is active.
- Murder is the end of things – not only another’s life, but also a kind of self-inflicted suicide of the soul, because once one starts down that path, the trail grows ever darker. Again, where one’s own actions result in a death, there’s often evidence the perpetrator’s 12th house is active.
So rape and murder should occur during the periods (dasha, bhukti, pratyantara) of planets that signify the 6th, 8th and 12th, ie, their occupants and lords, and planets occupying the nakshatras of those occupants and lords.
Krishnamurti Paddhati says that events are driven by the period lords of planets which signify key houses. Those significations arise via occupancy and rulership of key houses, and even more importantly, by a planet’s placement in the nakshatras of planets which occupy and own those key houses.
For example, the trikasthanas are activated during periods of (a) planets that occupy and own them, and (b) planets that occupy the nakshatras of those occupants and owners. In Muhammad’s chart, the key significators for the trik houses can be teased out as follows:
- 6th house has no occupant. Lord of the 6th is Venus. Her agents are the Sun, Jupiter, Saturn and Rahu, because they occupy Venus nakshatras. Since the nodes represent any planet with whom they have a relationship, Rahu and Ketu act as Venus’s proxies. Including Venus, six planets can deliver 6th-house results.
- 8th house has no occupant. Lord of the 8th is the Moon. She has no occupants in her nakshatras, so she alone can deliver 8th-house results.
- 12th house has no occupant. Lord of the 12th is Mars. His agents are the Moon and Venus because they occupy Mars nakshatras. Because the nodes represent any planet with whom they have a relationship, both Rahu and Ketu act as Venus’s proxy. Including Mars, five planets can deliver 12th-house results.
In summary, the significators for trik activity are:
- 6th house: VE, SU, JU, SA, RA, KE
- 8th house: MO
- 12th house: MA, MO, VE, RA, KE
Analysis of events
Now let’s examine the astrological circumstances in October 2002 when John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo went on their shooting spree. From the perspective of planetary periods, this occurred during Muhammad’s SA-ME-RA period.
- Saturn is a significator of the 6th. It is also a maraka for this chart. Finally, it is the karaka for death.
- Mercury is not a significator for any trikasthana. But it is both maraka and badhaka for this ascendant, and thus represents misfortunes.
- Rahu is a significator for both the 6th and 12th houses, and is therefore one of the most powerful planets to have a hand in crimes committed.
The transits at the time of the Beltway Sniper’s shooting spree can also be viewed through the lens of KP theory. The first shooting occurred with both lagnesh Jupiter and the Moon transiting the 8th house. Both were in a Mercury nakshatra, which invoked the maraka and badhaka for this ascendant.
Saturn was at 05GE08, exactly on the descendant, within five degrees of the Moon, and opposing the Sun, thereby influencing all three lagnas. Saturn in the nakshatra of Mars invoked the 12th house ruled by Mars.
Mars itself was in the midheaven at 27LE56, which is both Sun sign and Sun nakshatra. The Sun is a significator for the 6th.
This is a well-documented case, insofar as most of the shootings are timed to the minute. Therefore we can and should examine the transiting Moon. KP theory says these transits should trigger, via nakshatra– or sub-lord, the significators of the trikasthanas.
Out of 13 events (10 fatalities, 3 injuries) the Moon was in Ketu nakshatra six times, ie, almost half the time. This is about four times more frequent than would be expected. Note that Ketu is a significator for both the 6th and 12th houses.
In these same 13 events, the transiting Moon was in the Moon’s sub of a nakshatra, also six times, and likewise far more frequent than expected. Note that the Moon (as a planet being triggered) is the sole significator for the 8th house, and therefore a necessary ingredient in crimes of this magnitude.
John Allen Muhammad was executed by lethal injection at 9:06 pm EST on November 10, 2009, in Jarratt, Virginia. At the time of his death, he was running the conjoined periods of Saturn-Moon-Saturn. As we saw earlier, Saturn is a maraka for his chart, as well as the karaka of death. The Moon is a maraka as well, but also a significator for two trikasathanas – the 8th and the 12th.
Eventually, even our own worst planets show up to settle their scores.
His New Age Noir crime novels (Scorpio Rising, Felonious Monk, Soma County) feature astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, whom one reviewer has dubbed “Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope.”
He’s also the author of several non-fiction books. Stellar Astrology offers a compilation of time-tested techniques, in-depth celebrity profiles, and analysis of world events. Parivartana Yoga is a reference text for one of the most common yet powerful planetary combinations in jyotish. Mutual Reception is an expanded companion volume for western practitioners, covering the same subject of planetary exchange through the lens of traditional astrology.
Websites: www.navamsa.com, www.sextile.com